Kefalonian adventures

I can honestly say, that last Summer, we had one of our best family holidays yet. It was the perfect combination of totally chilling out with sparks of adventure and exploration thrown in. If you're looking for an easy, stress free holiday then read on to find out more about our Kefalonian adventures.

Itinerary - Kefalonian adventures

5 days at the Apollonian Resort and Spa

9 days in Fiskardo at Porto Fiscardo

Day trips to:

Myrtos Beach


Boat trip along the coast and to the island of Ithaca

Melissani Caves


visiting kefalonia

Apollonian Resort and Spa

It's rare for us to stay in a 'nice' hotel. We usually book self catering apartments but for this holiday we decided to do a bit of both. Our first stop was the fabulous Apollonian Resort and Spa at the southern end of the island near Lixouri.

We booked half board and so we ate our breakfast and evening meal at the hotel (and lunch too most of the time).  The facilities at the hotel are wonderful, especially the swimming pools. There are two large pools on offer - we spent all of our time in the larger of the two due to the gorgeous views out to sea.

Our room was split level, with kids taking the mezzanine floor upstairs. It worked well and there was plenty of room for us all. The restaurant and bar are all fairly new and very well looked after. The food was outstanding - there was huge variety of dishes on offer and plenty for vegetarians. Loads of fresh fruit and salads as well as local Greek dishes. There were child friendly options too, for the fussy eaters (yes, my son ate pizza and chicken nuggets most of the time). There's also an outdoor cinema and entertainment in the bar area in the evenings (we saw some Greek dancing!).

The idea was to spend time doing absolutely nothing but chill out, read books, swim and relax, so we had a very quiet few days.

We did venture down the road to the local Xi beach a couple of times for a dip in the sea and lunch. It's not the prettiest beach on the island but it's known for it's soft red sand. It's also famous for the clay from the surrounding cliffs. We saw lots of visitors covering themselves in the clay to benefit from it's detoxifying and cleansing properties. There are plenty of beach beds and umbrellas on offer, as well as beach clubs and restaurants to cater for the crowds. It was very busy both times that we visited. The water is beautifully clear and shallow and the kids really enjoyed swimming in it.

hotel pool images

We didn't hire a car for this leg of the holiday as we planned to spend most of our time at the hotel.  After our 5 days of total relaxation, we packed our bags and headed back towards Argostoli on the ferry to collect our hire car.

greek flag on the back of a ferry


For the second part of the holiday, we drove up to the most northern part of the island - the gorgeously picturesque Fiscardo. The pretty fishing village is very charming. It is one of the few areas that wasn't destroyed by the earthquake that devastated the island in 1953.

The drive involved some interesting hair pin bends, wild goats and spectacular views over the ocean. We were warned in advance of the hairy driving conditions, so it was pretty much as expected. It's advisable not to do the drive at night unless you are a very confident driver with great night vision!

We arrived at our lovely little apartment at Porto Fiscardo around lunchtime and were very impressed with the apartment and it's location. The accommodation had been recommended to us by friends and it was perfect! The building is host to a number of apartments that all share a swimming pool. There's a pool side bar serving freshly made breakfasts and lunches - the El Greco wrap became a firm favourite.

Our apartment consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining/lounge area, bathroom and outdoor terrace overlooking a little bay. The pool area was beautifully maintained and the staff welcoming and professional. There were plenty of sun-loungers and umbrella's for all and the pool area was never overcrowded.

There's a little beach, literally across the road from the apartment. So we'd grab our snorkels and masks and nip down to the beach to spot the fish. The water was super clear and there were plenty of fish to see. It was the first time my kids have been snorkeling and then absolutely loved it.

You can see the beach from the swimming pool, so I could spend a happy half hour relaxing on the sun deck and watching my husband and kids snorkeling below. See those bright white legs in the water? They're mine.



The heart of Fiscardo village was a mere 5 minutes walk from the accommodation, so we'd stroll there in the evening and choose one of the many restaurants for dinner. Although Fiskardo must have been a quiet fishing village once, it's now host to a plethora of sailing boats and super yachts.

The little harbour area is densely packed with boats and is very busy in the evening. It's worth booking a table in advance or going out early to make sure that you have a choice. There are plenty of lovely restaurants though, the standard was very high, so we were rarely disappointed with our meals.

Much of our time was spent chilling out around the pool, snorkeling at the little beach and reading in the shade. But, we were also keen to explore the area, so we planned a few day trips too...

Myrtos Beach

This stunner of a beach (which has made it into my all time top ten!) was made famous by the film, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Sometimes when you see photos of a beach, you think it can't possibly look that good in real life. Well, it does! We stopped on the way to Fiscardo to have a look at it from the roadside and then we couldn't wait to get back there a few days later to jump in that water.

There's two important bits of advice for you if you're visiting this beach - get there early and take beach shoes (it's very pebbly and you need a sky high pain threshold to go barefoot). There's a car park at the bottom of the cliff but it fills up quickly. We aimed to get there for around 9am and were able to park easily. We plonked our stuff down and made straight for the water.

The beach shelves steeply into the water and underwater visibility is fabulous. Myrtos has a reputation for having strong waves and currents but we were lucky as it was mostly flat and calm during our visit. We spotted some fish straight away but as the beach got busier the water became murky with suncream and it was harder to see.

There's some very handy showers on the beach and also a little cafe serving drinks and snacks.

myrtos beach kefalonia


Another easy day trip to make from Fiscardo is to Asos. Asos is a tiny little harbour village jutting out off the coast of the island. The views are spectacular on the way down the cliff side, with many a hair pin bend. The countryside is lush with pine and cypress trees and the waters crystal clear and all shades of blue. There's a small pebbly beach facing the harbour, which is perfect for a swim.

There's a handful of harbourside cafes overlooking the tiny bay. We chose to have breakfast there after our early start (another tip - arrive by 9am if you want a parking space).

A 15th century castle tops the peninsular that's attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land.  Built by the Venetians, the castle was a place of massive strategic importance, to protect the inhabitants from pirates. I wanted to take a walk up to the top to see the castle but the kids weren't keen on a hillside hike. We had a mooch around instead, until my husband's flip flop snapped and then it was game over and back to the car.

images of asos

Boat trip along the coast and to the island of Ithaca

A highlight of the holiday was the day we hired a boat and ventured around the coast for the day. The boat hire places are very busy and so it's important to book a boat in advance. The first place we approached - the very popular, Regina's Boat Hire - didn't have any boats available for the whole time we were there, but thankfully the second place - Fiscardo Boathire had some boats available.

Our friends had joined us for the second week, so we hired two boats, packed loads of food (from the fab bakery in Fiskardo), added water and suncream and off we went. The boat hire place will give you a map and suggested places to visit.

The first stop was the best. Heading north from Fiskardo, we made our way around the top of the island. We were looking for a secluded beach, with trees almost to the water's edge and cave that you can swim into. We accidentally passed it initially (my bad!) but finally found it on our way back. Wow! Such a special little find. I know I've mentioned the water constantly but it was so clear!!!!! And FULL of fish.

We dropped anchor and jumped off the boats to have a snorkel around. The kids really enjoyed swimming in the little cave, especially when a wave came and made a scary noise (lots of screaming). You can see the cave on the right hand side of the photo.

snorkeling in kefalonia

We carried on travelling further South now, down the coast and visited lots of different bays. In one, we were supposed to find 'shipwrecks'. We weren't sure if the upturned dingy at the bottom of the bay was one of them. After a long search, we decided that it must be!

The final part of the boat trip involved travelling over to Ithaca - the little island next to Kefalonia. The water was a little choppy out in the open sea which meant lots of screaming and being splashed in the face. It was worth it though. We arrived at a gorgeous little beach at the tranquil harbour. Time for an ice cream and a snorkel before boarding our little boats for the journey home.

Melissani Caves

The best time to visit the Melissani Caves is around midday to ensure that the sun is overhead which lets you see the gorgeous blue colour of the water. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make it to the caves at that time, so we made do with a visit later in the afternoon. There was a tiny patch of the most wonderful blue colour still visible on one side of the cave when we were there but we certainly didn't experience the full glory of it.

The upside was, we didn't spend hours queuing for what is literally a 5 minute boat ride across a cave. Well worth a visit if you like that sort of thing and you have the time. Expect long queues at the best times.

melissani caves


On our last day, we'd decided to drive down the eastern side of the island to visit Melissani Caves and Sami and then cross back over to the busy city port of Argostoli on the other side. I haven't mentioned it yet but we had a slow puncture in our tyre for the entire trip!  We'd had to stop regularly at petrol stations to re-inflate the tyre every time we'd gone out in the car. A little worrying when you're driving around sharp bends with high drops into the sea below! Luckily we made it to Argostoli  - which is near the airport - before disaster struck!

We wanted to visit Argostoli as we'd heard that you could see sea turtles in the harbour. The kids really wanted to try and find some before we left the island. About 5 minutes after parking the car, we saw a large crowd looking into the sea. Lo and behold, we'd stumbled upon an America research team that were tagging sea turtles!  We joined the crowds to see more.

We had dinner nearby and were treated to a visit from a friendly sea turtle. He/she swam up and down next to our table for the whole meal.

turtles in Argostoli

I can't tell you much more about Argostoli because we arrived back to our car to find a totally flat tyre! We spent the rest of our time changing the wheel and trying to get back to airport in time for our flight!

So, there you have it, a summary of our Kefalonian adventures. Two weeks of total relaxing fun and adventure on the fabulous island of Kefalonia. I would highly recommend both of the places that we stayed without hesitation. It was such an easy, low stress holiday with fabulous accommodation and plenty to do. If you have any questions about our trip, let me know! A big thanks to everyone that send recommendations to us before we went.

If you fancy an adventure a little bit closer to home, read about our trip in France and Italy for some ideas.

This year, we're visiting Croatia and planning visits to Dubrovnik, Hvar, Brac, Vis and Split. If you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear from you!

Gem x



Travelling around Europe with kids

Is travelling around Europe with kids a good idea or a bad idea?

Last Summer we decided to do something a little different with our Summer holiday. I've travelled all over the world and love nothing more than grabbing a backpack and heading for the airport. But, since having kids our Summer holidays have consisted of 2 weeks in France, Spain or Italy. We'd get an apartment or hotel and stay in the same spot for a couple of weeks. This is all perfectly understandable of course, who wants to go backpacking with young kids - not me! But, last Summer we decided that as they were a little older (9 & 12) we'd like to take them on a bit of an adventure. Trains, planes and automobiles... Travelling around Europe with kids.

We planned a little jaunt around France and Italy - no hotels with swimming pools this time! It could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. It was the best family holiday we've ever had.

I posted a few pictures on Facebook as we were travelling and a few people commented that they'd like to go travelling around Europe with kids as well and were asking for tips. So, here's the low down.


Day 1: Flew into Nice from Bristol. Picked up a car and drove to Villefranche.

Day 2-5: Explored Villefranche town, visited Eze and Aqualand near Frejus.

Day 6: Train from Villefranche - Ventimiglia - Milan. Collected a car in Milan and drove to Menaggio on Lake Como.

Day 7-17: Explored Menaggio and surrounding towns - Bellagio and Varenna and had a day trip to a chocolate factory and Lugano in Switzerland.

Day 18-21: Drove back to Milan to drop off the car and caught the train to Venice.

Day 19-21: Explored Venice, visiting Murano and Lido de Venezia.

First stop France

It's a short flight from Bristol to Nice. Flights into Nice and out of Venice only cost £588 for all four of us with Easyjet. After lots of recommendations we'd booked an apartment in the medieval town of Villefranche, known for its natural harbour and picturesque views. We picked up a car at the airport (Goldcar). If you're a James Bond fan (I am!), you'll know about the hairpin bends on the coastal roads in the Cote d'Azur. The road followed the coast most of the way and was little hairy at times, especially as we arrived late at night.

We arrived in Villefranche just before midnight and had to find a car park near the water as we were staying in an apartment in the centre of town which is pedestrianised.

The first day was spent day exploring Villefranche. We walked around the Citadel St Elmo and the medieval town centre with it's cobbled streets and alleyways full of shops and then spent a happy afternoon at the beach. In the evening, we consulted Trip Advisor and found a lovely restaurant called Achill's overlooking the bay.

The following day, we drove up to the charming hilltop town of Eze. It was a stunning drive and we stopped a few times to take in the jaw dropping views of the Mediterranean. Eze is perched high up on a rocky outcrop and is a quintessential medieval town full of tiny winding cobbled lanes and surrounded by beautiful scenery. Parking is very limited in Eze, so we parked at the bottom of the hill and took the bus up to the town. The little town is choc full of shops, galleries and a gorgeous mountaintop garden known for its picturesque views of the ocean. We were given a free entry ticket to the gardens from the park and ride bus, which was handy.

The next day, we met up with friends at Aqualand, a waterpark just outside of Frejus. It was a day of pure fun on the slides, ending with dinner in Frejus before driving back to Villefranche.

Images of Villefranche and Eze

French Highlights

Villefranche, Eze and Aqualand.

Onwards to Italy!

Our last day in Villefranche was spent chilling out on the beach. The kids absolutely loved playing the sea, it was warm, clear and shallow (with the odd spot of rubbish!). In the morning we walked 10 mins from our apartment to the train station in Villefranche and caught the train to Ventimiglia. What a stunning journey it was. The train hugs the coast for most of the way and so you pass beach after beach. I was glued to the window! We changed trains at Ventimiglia and boarded our prebooked train to Milan. Milan train station is very impressive - it's huge - the largest in Europe.

All train journeys for the trip were prebooked online with Trainline and Loco2.

We collected our car at the station and drove to the ancient town of Menaggio on the western shores of Lake Como. We chose B Rent for car rental because they were based at the train station. We'd booked another apartment in Menaggio with Happy Holiday Homes. It was a lovely little 2 bed apartment with stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. We had a few massive thunderstorms during our stay and it was very exciting watching the lightning and sheets of rain pass over the mountain tops and town below us. The only downside with being half way up the hill was that it was a 5/10 minute drive down for us to get to Menaggio each day. It would have been lovely to have had an apartment within walking distance of the town but we knew we'd get a nicer place if we stayed a little further out, plus the views were better.

Pretty Menaggio is one of the most popular towns on the lake, with plenty of things to do and great ferry links to other towns. It's a beautiful little town, nestled on the shore of the lake with panoramic views everywhere you look. The kids adored the Lido di Menaggio - which had a large swimming pool and also access to a little beach on the lake with a large inflatable obstacle course. We visited the Lido nearly every day (entry costs were included in the rental price of our apartment) and the kids happily played in the lake or the pool whilst I got some reading done. There's also mini golf available next door to the Lido which is a fun way to spend an hour or so. If you want to get away from the crowds at the Lido, there are other beaches on the edge of the lake where you can spend a quiet few hours for free.

We stayed in Menaggio for 10 days, in hindsight, it was a little too long, I think a week would have been enough and we could have squeezed another stop in somewhere but we made the most of the time that we had there. There's lots of ferries to other towns in the area - across to the centre of the lake to the beautiful Bellagio or all the way over the other side to the attractive village of Varenna. There's plenty to explore in each town and lots of shops and cafes to visit too.

Images of Menaggio and Lake Como




























One of the best things we did was to hire a boat for the afternoon. If possible it's advisable to book a boat in advance as all the boat hire places were really busy. We explored around the coast and visited some James Bond filming locations (ok, I was more excited than the kids!). The best bit was when we stopped in the middle of the lake for a swim. It was well worth the cost and something that the kids will remember for a long time. If you look closely below, you might see a rare picture of the photographer on holiday...

Boat trip on Lake Como

Lake Como Highlights

Awesome views, boat trip, swimming in the lake, the Lido in Menaggio.

A foray to Switzerland

The travel bug had bitten us and were keen to add another country to our list.  So we nipped over the border and spent the day in Switzerland.  We planned a trip to the Swiss city of Lugano, on the northern side of Lake Lugano and more importantly to the nearby Alprose Chocolate Factory. Yum!

Travelling around Europe with kids - Switzerland

Venice, here we come

After 10 days in Menaggio, we said goodbye to the beautiful Lake Como. We headed back to Milan to drop the car off and get the train to Venice! I've been to magical city of Venice a few times. I wasn't keen on forcing the kids to queue up in the heat and look around museums. Been there, done that. I wanted them to get the feel of the place, lay their eyes on it and soak up the beauty. So we mostly mooched.

We'd booked a lovely apartment next door to the Hilton Hotel. We spent a couple of days exploring around Venice, making sure we ticked off the 'must see' places like St Mark's Square, the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs. Not forgetting the glass blowing island of Murano.

Our apartment was right next door to the Hilton Moline Stucky Hotel and the Skyline Bar on the roof of the hotel had been recommended to us for great sunset views. One night, throwing caution to the wind we decided to blow our dinner budget on the most expensive drinks we've ever bought. It was worth it though. The views were fabulous (and we got free crisps and olives!). On our last day we decided to go the beach (Lido di Venezia) to chill out away from the crowds before flying home.

Venice Highlights

Skyline bar in the Hilton Hotel at sunset, watching glass blowing in Murano, Grand Canal, general mooching.


Travel & accommodation at a glance

Bristol to Nice: Flew with Easyjet.

Nice to Villefranche: Car hire from Nice airport with Goldcar to drive to Villefranche.

Villefranche to Eze: Drove and then used the park and ride.

Villefranche to Frejus: Drove.

Villefranche to Milan: Train from Villefranche  - Ventemiglia - Milan. (Trainline & Loco2)

Milan to Menaggio: Collected a car at Milan train station from B Rent.

Menaggio: Used the car daily to drive into town. Accomodation booked with Happy Holiday Homes.

Bellagio / Varenna:  Ferry from Menaggio

Lugano in Switzerland: Drove.

Menaggio to Milan: - Drove.

Milan to Venice: Train. (Trainline & Loco2). Accomodation booked with Youatmolino.

Venice: Used Vaporetto's to get around.

Venice to Bristol: Bus back to the airport. Flew home with Easyjet.


Any questions?

So that's it! If you have any questions or want advice about travelling around Europe with kids, drop me line. There's so many opportunities for travelling like this across Europe that we're already planning another trip for next year. We can't decide between driving through France and Spain or going back to Italy and nipping over to Croatia. If you've got any travel tips, let me know!

Travelling to the Cote d'Azur isn't just a great idea in the Summer months - check out this great blog post from Aberdeen Family Photographer - Iana Chtefan, on why visiting the area in February is a fabulous choice too!

Read other blog posts here.

Gem x